Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Gary Matthews Jr: This could get awkward

Just two years removed from signing a 5 year/$50 million dollar deal with the Angels, Gary Matthews Jr. probably will start the season on the Angels bench. Matthews has been a disappointment for the Angels, who are loaded with quality outfielders and suddenly have no room for the once prized acquisition.

From the Angels perspective, this is totally understandable. They want to field the best team possible and if that means that Matthews is relegated to the bench, then so be it.

But here's where it's going to get awkward. Matthews Jr. wants to play. He strongly expressed his desires to play everyday and he still believes he's a starting outfielder in the majors. There is no doubt that if Matthews wants to play everyday, it will not happen with the Angels in 2009 unless there is a rash on injuries to any combination of the four guys ahead of him (Rivera, Hunter, Guerrero, Abreu). And keep in mind, the odds of Matthews getting traded in 2010 would decrease steadily if Matthews cannot get on the field in 2009.

The obvious solution to this problem would be to have Matthews waive his no trade clause and move him to another team. However, at this time, any GM who accepts the 3 years/$30 million left on Matthews contract should be declared insane. A better option would be for the Angels to eat a good portion of the contract, but in this economy, why would the Angels want to do that? Sure Matthews Jr. might become a liability in the locker room if he becomes agitated with the Angels, but he can still be productive, even in a bench role. With Matthews Jr. on board, the Angels improve the overall depth and quality of their club even if he is not a starter.

So look for 2009 to become an awkward season for the Angels and Gary Matthews Jr. Because of his contract situation, it will be nearly impossible for the Angels to find suitors. And honestly, there is no reason why the Angels should eat a chunk of his contract unless they get something valuable in return or if they trade him somewhere far, far away (i.e Pittsburgh).

Circumstances like this one usually have a way of working themselves out over the course of the season, but for right now, it's not looking good for Matthews Jr.


tHeMARksMiTh said...

They might as well eat it. It's a sunk cost at this point. You might as well save as much as you can while getting rid of a useless, for them, player. I never understood why eating parts of contracts was so terrible. It's terrible because you have to, but it's a suck cost you have to pay anyway. Getting rid of any of it and the roster space makes you more flexible. I get that you'd rather not have to, but the Angels (or whatever team) were dumb enough to give him such an outrageous contract.

Sorry for the rant, but this subject always kills me.

Josh said...

tHeMARksMith: Two reasons:

1. because Matthews can still be a productive player and at worst, a useful bench player. Plus, he's better than any other option they have as far as 4th/5th OFs go.

2. It would be terrible to eat all that money and watch Matthews play very well with another club. Tacky I know, but if the Angels are going to be picking up the cost, they want Matthews to succeed with them...or at least something to that extent.

3. You can never have too much depth!

tHeMARksMiTh said...

I understand why you'd keep him, but it doesn't appear like that is going to be possible, or at least peaceful. I was saying if they were really looking to trade him but wouldn't because of having to pay the money. And besides one good season, is there really too much of a reason to believe he'll succeed?

Josh said...

tHeMARksMiTh: Sure Matthews has had just one really good season, but he brings a lot to the table as a bench player. He can play every outfield position, switch hits, and has some power especially when healthy.

Even though Matthews has been a bust with the Angels, he still has more potential to make an impact with the Angels than plenty of their other players who would be replacing him.

Ron Rollins said...


You're right. They need the depth. The Angles are good, but they are also old. Vlad has knee problems, Hunter is due to start fading any day, and Riveria is still an unknown.

Matthews will probably still get 2-3 starts a week, and will be needed if someone goes down for an extended time.

Keep him in the role he's suited for, even if he is overpaid.

Hell, they're all overpaid.

Excpet Albert. He needs a raise.

Ron Rollins said...

Hunter just hurt himself. Again.

Josh said...

Ron: Wow, that was quick! What a bizarre play as well.